It's cold in Toronto right now. Really, really cold. Like tights under your kid's jeans and then snow pants kind of cold. Sartre must not have had kids to say that hell is other people. Those of us who live with children know that hell is actually other peoples's stuff. Hats, mittens (which will NEVER stay on no matter what), scarf, snowsuit, boots… and that's for one child! Once you've covered every frost-bitable surface of the children –which of course makes them whine and complain — and jollied them outside for an activity like sledding or snowman making, you really want to come home to something warm.
And for this we need comfort food. SPC contributor and dear friend Heidi introduced me to this tuna casserole almost a year ago. I've made it several times since and have been meaning to post it. But this weekend was a comfort food emergency! It's a Rachel Ray recipe that I've modified a bit in the name of health. But honestly, my nod to health is really just a glance. This one is not going to get you into heaven, except that it's easy and really delicious.
500 gram package of whole wheat penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
1 leek, cleaned well and sliced thin
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 cans good quality tuna, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups Gruyere, grated
Turn broiler on to low heat.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add penne noodles and cook until al dente and no more, about 8 minutes.
In a pan with olive oil, sautee mushroom and leeks until they begin to soften, about five minutes.
Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and leeks and stir. Allow to cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and allow to thicken, about 3 to 5 minutes. If the sauce isn't thickening, inch up the heat just a bit. Stir in mustard and season with salt and pepper after tasting. Add frozen peas and thyme.
Once noodles are cooked, drain and add to the vegetables and stir. Turn off the heat. Pour the noodles and vegetables into a casserole. Sprinkle cheese over top and pop into the oven, close to broiler for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and turns brown.